By all means, 2016 has certainly been an interesting year for Cleveland Cavaliers guard and first-round pick Iman Shumpert. Despite starting a career-low five games for the coaching duo of David Blatt and Tyronn Lue, Shumpert had his highest defensive win shares (1.8) since his rookie year in 2011-12 and helped guide the Cavaliers to the city of Cleveland’s first title in over 50 years.
Off the court, however, Shumpert has battled an arrest for driving under the influence (TMZ Sports was first on that front) in a car that “reeked of weed” during a trip to Georgia. Other offenses included marijuana possession (less than an ounce) a failure to maintain his lane, and a few traffic citations. TMZ then passed along word yesterday that Shumpert will, in fact, be charged, something that may concern the Cavaliers because the marijuana charge means a year of jail.
Now, rumors concerning him cheating on his girlfriend, the beautiful singer Teyana Taylor, have picked up steam to the point where Shumpert had to post a rant on Instagram addressing the allegations. E! Online was able to salvage the text of the rant.
“I was young. I was selfish. I’ve broken hearts and been insensitive to them. I never really cared what the Internet said of me until now and it’s not because they’re antagonizing me…they are now directing hate toward a woman that gives off nothing but positive energy and deserves nothing more than the world that I vow to give her…. I normally wouldn’t acknowledge this type of thing but you guys win. If you’re going to send the hate, direct it at me. Don’t make her pay for my mistakes. I’m older now, I’m different now. It’s Peace and love. Don’t make her pay for the mistakes of my past.”
And yet, Shumpert is still finding ways to be productive without getting the law involved or succumbing to the pressure of letting his career fall apart. Shumpert, a rapper in his spare time, dropped a new song on Friday titled “My Story” and rapped the following, curious lyric.
“you best believe I’m going to take me a knee for the anthem.”
Shumpert, a first-round pick of the New York Knicks in 2011, also commented on the recent off-the-court issues that have put him in the limelight yet again.
“Came in the league and my image was so clean cut. Then I messed up and got locked up and this (expletive) sucks. They’re trying to hold my head under the water I get it. (expletive) the high road I’m playing chicken and hoping they listen.”
Shumpert is not the first NBA player to speak out on wanting to make a change, as his teammate LeBron James joined Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul at July’s ESPYS to tackle the necessity of working together. While Shumpert wanting to kneel isn’t quite taking the microphone to kick off a major entertainment event, it is something that’s likely going to be a bit harder due to a certain rule from the NBA’s official rule book.
“Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.”
Because the National Football League does not have that specific section in their rule book, San Francisco 49ers backup Colin Kaepernick has been able to kneel on the sideline — the act that Shumpert wishes to replicate — and other teams have either raised their fists in the air or interlocked arms to show unity. If the latter two were to happen in the NBA, that may fall into a gray area because interlocking arms can be considered by many as dignified, but kneeling is probably a no-go.
Even with that being the case, however, expect many players to start making a plea to the higher-ups for a change in the rule book. The one thing that Shumpert, James, and others would have going for them is that through his first three years as commissioner, Adam Silver has been very open to change and trying to do the right thing for all parties involved — especially the players.
Does that mean we’ll see a change to the rule book giving all players the option to stand or kneel? I can’t say for sure, but do I think Silver would at least want to hear players out to gauge what they’re feeling? I do, especially with the mature way that we saw LeBron and friends speak and handle these issues at the ESPYS.
Silver, between the immediate banning of Donald Sterling and removing the NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte, seems to understand the importance of change and of listening to others. Unlike other leaders in the sports industry who care more about money and their own ego (Roger Goodell is probably going to come to mind for a lot of people), everything we’ve seen from Silver so far has demonstrated a surprising show of humanity from a man in a role that we as fans are so used to seeing either robots or the typical big businessman. If we see protests like Kaepernick’s where players now would be openly defying a rule, it’d mean one of two things.
1. Silver pretty much told them to “screw off” in so many words.
2. The players don’t want to wait for Silver — a “white man” — to make a decision and they would just go through with it anyway.
With all of the trouble that Shumpert has found himself in recently, openly defying a rule and essentially putting himself over the rest of the team would be far from a smart decision. The best thing that Shumpert — and any other NBA player who feels the same way — can do is make their case to Adam Silver, wait for a decision, and try to educate others on what they can do to bring about change.
That, believe it or not, may actually give more of an impact than kneeling and bringing attention to yourself. But, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Iman Shumpert over the years, it’s that he certainly enjoys the attention.
[Featured Image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images]